4 Critical Mistakes Managers Make When Ordering An Electronics Lab Bench

Jun 28, 2021 4:00:00 PM / by Albert Cappello

If your company assembles or manufactures electronics, making a mistake during the design of your lab bench will most likely be very costly. 

Because the right design is crucial when it comes to the electronics business, your electronics lab bench is especially important. Overlook just one critical design component, and you may find yourself scrambling to fix the domino effect that can occur and the impact it has on production. 

Some nightmare scenarios that can happen include: 

  • Damaged expensive electronic components or electrical equipment from a lack of ESD protection
  • Worker’s compensation claims from poorly designed industrial furniture
  • Reduced productivity due to an unorganized workspace or lack of access to utility options
  • Safety hazards when the wrong weight load capacity is chosen, also impacting the function of the bench

These nightmare scenarios can become a reality if you make any of these four critical mistakes. 


1. Not Having Proper ESD Protection


If you’re working with electronics, the slightest electrostatic discharge can have costly consequences. 

Electronics lab BenchElectrostatic discharge, or ESD, is a natural occurrence in which electricity is passed through the body or other conductor and discharges onto an object. It’s a significant problem for many industries. For example, static discharge can ignite flammable mixtures of vapors in laboratories or attract contaminants in clean environments. 

It can also damage sensitive and expensive electronic components in electronics manufacturing. In fact, static discharge can cause damage to sensitive devices with as little as 1 volt of electricity. Yet people can’t feel a static discharge until about 2,000 volts or higher, meaning just because you didn’t feel a zap doesn’t mean your electronics products weren’t damaged.

To protect any electronics you are manufacturing or using, you must have a workbench with an ESD laminate surface that features an embedded carbon layer for dissipation of static. ESD dissipation rates should be greater than 10/6th but less than 10/9th and be capable of handling 100,000 ohms.

ESD bench tops can be assembled to any type of frame, but typically high quality steel frames with grounding bolts attached to each end of the lab bench provide the most strength and flexibility. This construction will also provide the longest product life cycle.  

While an ESD lab bench typically costs about 15 to 30% more than its non-ESD counterpart, this level of protection on the work surface is an important investment when working with electronics. You can read about some additional options you have in our article, Top 5 Materials To Consider For Your Lab Countertops.


2. Not Having An Ergonomic-Friendly Design


Any extended sitting can be harmful to a person’s health. In fact, those who sit are about twice as likely to get heart disease as those who stand, according to WebMD. Excessive sitting can also put huge stress on your back muscles, neck and spine.

This is why incorporating ergonomics into your design is crucial in today’s market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that sprains, strains and tears collectively are the leading type of injury in manufacturing. Ergonomics is defined as fitting a workplace to a user’s needs. In other words, this science aims to increase efficiency and reduce discomfort.

Adjustable workstations are designed to provide flexibility to workers by allowing them to manage their environment and choose whether they sit or stand at any given time. Many adjustable workstations also include additional ergonomically-designed features like monitor arms and keyboard trays, allowing workers to tailor the height of their workstation’s components to what feels comfortable for them. 

This adaptability allows users to assemble or manufacture electronics in their bodies’ optimal neutral position, which is the posture your body is at its strongest and most efficient.

The bottom line is that an ergonomic design protects your company from costly worker’s compensation claims and downtime from employees being off of work as a result of injuries.


3. Lacking Storage And Utility Options


Working with electronics often requires the use of several tools, ample storage space and access toelectronics lab bench adequate lighting. An unorganized workspace that lacks the room to store these tools, lacks proper lights and lacks access to necessary utility options can reduce productivity during your project.

When evaluating your electronics workbench options, select drawers that provide security, especially if you must store expensive tools. Look for features like full extension and heavy duty roller bearing slides, which allow you to effortlessly open and close drawers regardless of their contents. 

Other organizational accessories you’ll want to consider in your area include:

  • Shelving and upper cabinets
  • Electrical power supply strips that can be mounted for easy access
  • Pegboards that can hold tools
  • Keyboard trays and articulating monitor arms
  • Bin rails or panels that can hold parts and accessories

Lastly, utility options are important in any electronics lab bench. Options that can make an electronics lab bench stand apart from a general workbench include utility ductways for data and LED lighting that provides the needed illumination when working with technology and other test equipment.


4. Not Having The Right Weight Load Capacity


Weight load capacity is often an overlooked feature of an electronics lab bench, yet is an important consideration when working with heavier pieces. 

Weight load capacity impacts the safety and function of the bench. If your facility handles heavy lab equipment - whether it’s the electronics themselves or the tools used to build the electronics - having a workbench that can withstand the heavy forces placed upon it is essential. Lab benches that aren’t constructed to handle these heavy forces will wear out faster, costing you more in the long run.

Electronics lab benches typically are available in three capacities:

  • Heavy duty, which has a weight load capacity of around 5,000 pounds
  • Extra heavy duty, which typically features a weight load capacity of between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds
  • Standard, which has a lower weight capacity, ranging between 750 and 1,000 pounds

There’s one important note to keep in mind when selecting which weight load capacity will work best for your facility. The width of the lab bench can impact its load capacity. For example, a 96-inch wide bench would have a load capacity of around 4,000 pounds. 

The construction features you choose also can impact the strength of your bench. For example, extra heavy duty construction, which typically features 12-gauge steel and 3-inch square steel legs, is going to be more durable and stronger than standard construction, which features 16-gauge steel and 2-inch square legs.


A Customizable Solution


Although we’ve outlined four mistakes often not taken into account for an electronics lab bench, there’s one additional feature that your lab bench manufacturer should offer as well - the ability to customize each of these features. 

While each of the four features above must be considered when designing an electronics lab bench, not all furniture manufacturers offer you these options. This can be the case when working with a manufacturer overseas or one that only produces lab benches in bulk. 

Working with a U.S.-based manufacturer that customizes to meet your specific needs can help you ensure that your electronics lab bench is designed to solve any storage, safety or durability issues you face. The best manufacturers will not only accommodate your specifications, but ensure you receive your lab bench in a timely manner and answer any questions you have regarding materials, costs and protections. 

laboratory furniture

Albert Cappello

Written by Albert Cappello

Albert Cappello is the CEO of Workstation Industries, Inc. WSI is a manufacturer of Industrial, Technical and Laboratory Furniture based in Southern California.

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